Bill Simmons Ramping Up For His New Website

By Marcus Vanderberg 

ESPN columnist Bill Simmons recently chatted with Michael McCarthy of USA Today about his new website that’s launching in May.

According to “The Sports Guy,” the site will be two-thirds sports; one-third pop culture. The plan is to hire 8-12 writers and editors and Chuck Klosterman, Molly Lambert, Chris Ryan and Katie Baker are already on board.

Below is an excerpt of the interview:

Tell us about the new site.

We’re hoping the slate of the writers coming out of the gate, not just the ones we hire full-time, but the people contributing once a week, once a month, or once every couple of months, will be really be special. I felt like there was a void for a site like this. When I was growing up, I wanted to write for the Boston Globe, Inside Sports and Sports Illustrated. When I was in college, I wanted to write for The National and Spy magazine. I would have literally walked across the country barefoot to write for either of those places. When I look at the landscape now, I don’t feel like there’s a web site, or a magazine, or a newspaper like that. I’m not saying this is going to be the web site. I feel we have a chance. You have to think ambitiously with this stuff. That’s my goal: I would love for this to be the place where if you’re a 19-year old in college you look at this web site and say, ‘Some day I’m going to write for them.’

How do you like building a team instead of writing a column?

For me, it’s been weird. It’s a whole organizational side that I never really had experience with. Trying to hire people, trying to find people. Life was a lot easier when I just had to worry about writing my column.

Does your site have a name yet?

We’ve had had a couple of names. You come up with a name and then somebody owns the URL. That part is a lot harder than I thought. I’m the same guy who didn’t name my daughter until a day after she was born. I have a feeling that’s probably what’s going to happen here. We’ll come up with the name the day before we launch.

Why isn’t ESPN in the name?

The original model for this is Miramax and Disney…Creatively, I think we’ll have a little more leeway. We’ll be able to take a couple of chances that a Web site wouldn’t be able to take if it had ESPN in the name. But we’re also using the ESPN infrastructure. The same sales staff. The same Web site infrastructure. We’re taking the umbilical chord. The box on that I have right now will become a box for the web site…Together we can do some damage.